Picks and Pans Review: A Matter of Trust: Billy Joel in the U.s.s.r.
updated 06/20/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/20/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT
There are some amazing moments in this artsy documentary about Joel's '87 concert tour of the Soviet Union. But none of those moments includes Billy blathering about life as we know it: "We think of the Russians as a monolith. We don't think of them as individual people. I know that people are people." Just when you're ready to shout, "Yo, Mr. Big Star, shut up and sing," he does, as wonderfully as ever. But if all you want to hear is music from the tour, you should buy the album or you should have watched HBO's concert special from last October. If, on the other hand, you want to see what Billy is like behind the scenes, then this is the show to see. You watch Billy and the boys in his band visit Soviet Georgia and jam with an a cappella men's choir on superbly strange ancient melodies. That's a goose-bump opportunity and so is Billy's rendition of The Times They Are a-Changin' on Soviet TV. You see Billy and Christie Brinkley playing with their sweet child, Alexa Ray. Then you see Billy turn on his wife. "How's your throat feel?" she asks, innocently. "Feels like it hurts," he growls, testily. You really see Billy's dark side with his notorious onstage snit in Moscow. The folks filming this show turned their lights on the audience and that upset Billy, so he screamed in the middle of a song and knocked over his electric piano. "It's not a tantrum," Joel rationalizes later. "The point of rock and roll is outrageousness."